Will Wildfire Evacuations Be A Superspreader Event?

Michael Nabert
5 min readSep 6, 2023

Scattered populations could bring back contagions from across the country.

Photoshopped from various sources by author

Today, wildfire evacuees will begin returning to Yellowknife, while residents of other communities in the Northwest Territories that are still threatened by active fires await the green light for themselves. Thousands of cars will wend their way through fire zones eager for the comforts of home. Some may bring with them something that they didn't plan on and can’t see: a possibly asymptomatic Covid case or other infection.

Scattering 30,000 evacuees across the country will have exposed them to a broad range of populations in many different places. Most NWT displaced residents ended up in Alberta, where governments broke the law by overriding their chief medical officer of health to decide Covid policy entirely on purely ideological rather than evidence-based grounds. Despite virtually eliminating testing for Covid to hide the scale of the problem, Alberta has clearly demonstrated the highest per capita excess mortality rate among provinces since the pandemic began, and under its current science denying premier there’s no hope of improved public health measures. Other evacuees landed in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, and even the Atlantic provinces.

All signs point to a new Covid wave already starting. As the rapidly changing virus continues to evolve, new variants are still emerging. The virus isn’t back, because it never went away. What went away was people’s willingness to pay attention. If anything, overt hostility towards people taking preventative health measures appears to be on the rise. I’d guess that no more than 5% of our population is still wearing masks. Admittedly that’s an anecdotally small sample based on what I’ve personally seen, but it might be pertinent because most of what I’ve personally seen is the behaviour among residents of Yellowknife itself.

So a very real possibility exists that as we return from the evacuation, Northerners could bring whatever variants have been circulating around the whole country all home to a single place.

The nature of the evacuation itself crammed an awful lot of people into close quarters, such as in evacuation centres tightly packed with…



Michael Nabert

Researching a road map from our imperilled world into one with a livable future with as much good humour as I can muster along the way.